Each year, more than 1/3 of adults aged 65 and older experience a fall. If not suffering a direct injury from a fall, such an incident can impact your confidence and keep you from participating in the activities that you enjoy. There are proactive steps that you can take to decrease the likelihood that you will suffer a fall. If you are worried that you might be at risk for falling because of a recent loss of balance, notice a deficit in strength or flexibility, or find yourself being more sedentary and stiff than you used to be, setting up an appointment with a physical therapist would be a great consideration for you.
During a physical therapy evaluation, you can share your story and concerns. The PT will review your medical history with you, asses your mobility, stability and strength, and perform some simple functional activities with you to help you determine where your deficits lie. Once determined, these challenges can be incorporated into in-clinic interventions and can be used to develop an individualized home exercise program with your specific needs in mind. The safe set up of your home environment, modification ideas that would allow daily tasks to be accomplished more safely, and general discussion on footwear, nutritional, and sleep needs are also things that can be addressed during your physical therapy sessions.
Even if you don’t see yourself as someone who is at risk for falling, it is a great idea to involve yourself in activities that will keep you moving. Regular walking or biking programs, community based strength and balance exercise classes, and/or involvement in activities like aquatic exercise, TaiChi, Pilates, or yoga are all options that you could take advantage of. In most cases, class leaders will be able to offer you modifications for those exercises that you would like to do but cannot, due to a physical limitation. Preventing a fall by keeping yourself tuned up will definitely be time well spent.